Over the last few decades, many cities have been affected by civil unrest and rioting. Often, this develops from protests of political, social, economic, environmental or law enforcement issues. Unfortunately, peaceful protests can escalate into a violent and dangerous situation. Businesses may face increased risks during periods of public protests and social unrest, which can threaten employees, disrupt operations, and damage property. You can help mitigate these risks by considering the following actions:
Prioritise Employee Protection
When civil unrest arises or appears on the horizon, communicate as soon as possible with your staff to express concern, emphasise the importance of situational awareness, and provide critical guidance to ensure employee and customer safety.
Urge employees to avoid city centres and districts where protests and riots may occur; promote virtual meetings where possible to avoid travel to these areas.
Anticipate travel disruptions; check local government and news websites and social media for official information about road and bridge closures.
Discourage employees from wearing clothing bearing your company’s logo if your business is associated with industry sectors targeted by protestors, such as finance or ecommerce.
Make sure all employees are familiar with the company’s emergency and security plans.
Ask employees to confirm or update their contact information so they can be easily reached.
Protect Your Facilities
Property in areas with unrest faces the threat of damage, looting, and arson. The following steps can help protect your company’s facilities:
Ask employees to remain alert for unusual activity at or near company facilities—and outline any steps they should take in response.
Test intrusion and fire protection systems, and review notification procedures with alarm companies.
If you have security personnel, brief them on the situation and plan their response.
Assess windows, doors, and other points of entry; provide further security, such as boarding up, if needed.
Remove combustible materials from Around the exterior of the building.
Secure Vacant Premises
Vacant buildings are particularly vulnerable to damage during periods of civil unrest. In times of civil unrest, first responders can be spread thin and may not be able to provide protection. Taking the following steps can help limit damage to vacant premises:
Shut off gas, electrical, and water services to the greatest extent possible, while maintaining fire suppression and alarm systems. Similarly, power down non-essential equipment and systems.
Remove combustible materials from the building and Around its exterior.
Cut back vegetation.
Inspect vacant premises daily—only if you can do so safely and alert the appropriate authorities if you see signs of forced entry.
Plan for Business Continuity
Develop or update your business continuity plan to help your company resume operations quickly after any disruptions caused by civil unrest or other events. Effective business continuity plans include:
Preparatory steps that can help limit losses.
Emergency response procedures to take when disaster threatens.
Recovery actions to get your business back on its feet.
As part of preparing your business for any major disruption including civil unrest, your business should coordinate with local law enforcement, public safety officials or security organisations. Also be ready to make quick adjustments to your operations. Flexibility can pay off in protecting your business and speeding your recovery.